Through the years I have made several proposals for commissions that would use a glacial tilt boulder. As they slowly move down mountain valleys under the pressure of prehistoric glaciers like giant ball bearings, these huge rocks have been rounded into more or less spherical shapes. In 1987, for example I proposed to use a 100,000 pound boulder mounted on a bearing at the Walker Art Center that could be turned by hand like a giant megalithic prayer wheel. The slow-to-move boulder would have been contrasted by a spinning electric light standard uprooted from its normal position on the sidewalk and elevated overhead.
In ROCKshadow, I propose to use an 85,000 pound white granite glacial tilt boulder measuring roughly fourteen feet tall and nine feet around as a pattern to build its shadow in black bronze. It is common in my work to contrast and compare seemingly opposite values like inside and outside, big and small, heavy and light, transparent and opaque, space and object. In this work I am fascinated with the idea of using the boulder as a dressmaker would use a manikin to create a coat and stand the original boulder and its ersatz bronze cloak together in a Seattle plaza. I am curious about how having them together would reveal their relative sense of weight and solidity or lack thereof. Would the white boulder, ROCK, feel lighter than its black bronze shadow even though we know that it is many times heavier? Would the boulder feel obdurately solid or spongy like a marshmallow? Would the black “skin” of the bronze clinging to the interior ribbed support structure make the shadow feel hollow like a tent? Would this skin feel taught and tensile like a drum head next to impossibly soft white granite? Would it be clear that the ROCK was used as a pattern to fashion its shadow. I am interested in how the original form would feel standing next to what is essentially a mold of it that now becomes a once-removed and materially distinct replica. Would we ask which came first?
Procedurally, I propose to stand a glacial boulder on end and not unlike a contour map, draw with chalk on it surface lines that reveal and even exaggerate the shapes of the ROCK. Over these lines we will lay preheated ½” round bars of wax and join them with crossing wax lines. Over this cage-like grid we will heat sheets of wax and rub them onto the cage such that the grid beneath is revealed as it resists the softened sheet wax. Finally the wax is removed in many pieces and is run through a lost-wax casting process. Reassembled with a black patina, these bronze parts become what I call the shadow.
Finally, both the ROCK and its shadow are installed in the plaza to become ROCKshadow.